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Should parents of twins get more parental EI leave?

Categories: Canada, Community, Politics

UPDATE: The Federal Court ruled Thursday that the Employment Insurance Commission made "no reviewable error" in denying the parents of twins double parental leave time. Christian Martin and Paula Critchley say they will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

Original post: 

Canada's Federal Court is expected to rule today whether parents of twins can get double the parental leave benefits under Employment Insurance. 

Christian Martin and Paula Critchley are fighting an arbitrator's decision that denied their double claim of parental leave benefits.Christian Martin and Paula Critchley are fighting an arbitrator's decision that denied their double claim of parental leave benefits. (CBC)Christian Martin and his wife Paula Critchley both applied for the full 35 weeks of parental leave after their daughters, Lucie and Athena, were born in April 2009. 

Martin and Critchley argued that since parents of children born a year apart are entitled to two 35-week benefit periods, parents of twins should receive the same amount of time.

Normally, under Canadian law, the parents may take a total of 35 weeks of parental leave between them following a birth or adoption, no matter how many children are born to or adopted by the parents at the same time. (Birth mothers may also take 15 weeks of maternity leave.)

Martin's claim was initially denied, but the Employment Insurance Board of Referees agreed with the couple in September 2009 and granted both Martin and Critchley their 35 weeks. 

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission appealed the decision, and an arbitrator overturned it in May 2011, saying the Employment Insurance Act is clear that benefits were limited to 35 weeks for "the care of one or more new-born or adopted children as a result of a single pregnancy or placement." 

Martin and Critchley then took their fight to Federal Court. Martin said he hopes the case will lead Parliament to reconsider whether multiple births deserve multiple benefits. 

New Democrat MP Sana Hassainia tabled a private member's bill in November that would allow parents 70 weeks of EI benefits in the case of multiple births, allowing both parents to stay home for up to 35 weeks. 

Should parents of twins be both allowed to take 35 weeks of EI leave each? Should the leave be even longer in the case of triplets or other multiple births? Let us know what you think. 

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Canada, law, parenting, Politics, POV

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